My Placement at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary

A seal, enjoying a stay at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary

Flo Taylor is a BSC Marine Biology student at the University of Exeter, Penryn Campus. Flo recently completed a placement with the Cornish Seal Sanctuary.

Why did you decide to take a placement module?

It was part of a compulsory Skills and Careers module in Year 1, but I wanted to volunteer at the Seal Sanctuary anyway.

What type of work you did on your placement, and how do you think this has given you experience for your future career?

I was an education volunteer, so I was engaging with visitors, answering questions and telling them about the animals and the charity. I even gave a few talks to groups of visitors about some of the animals.

“I was outside the whole time, which was great, and reaffirmed for me that I don’t want to work in an office!”

It certainly gave me more confidence in talking to and approaching people, and I came away with more knowledge about the animals and how a charity like that functions.

I was also outside the whole time, which was great, and reaffirmed for me that I don’t want to work in an office!

What did you enjoy most about your placement?

I loved knowing that I was contributing, supporting, and representing the Seal Sanctuary, somewhere that is well-known and well-loved. The people there are so friendly and it felt like a little community.

“I loved knowing that I was contributing, supporting, and representing the Seal Sanctuary, somewhere that is well-known and well-loved.”

I didn’t actually have any direct interaction with the animals, but it was wonderful to be able to see them every week, and I did come to recognise all the individual seals (actually quite hard to do!) and some of their individual quirks.

Do you think your placement has benefited the local community? If so, in what way?

My volunteering there will have certainly helped the Sanctuary, and the Sanctuary definitely benefits the local community, so I suppose, indirectly I will have benefited the local community.

The Sanctuary brings many tourists to the local area, and even just to Cornwall as a whole, which in turn benefits local businesses such as restaurants and B&Bs.

“The Sanctuary brings many tourists to the local area, and even just to Cornwall as a whole, which in turn benefits local businesses such as restaurants and B&Bs.”

The Sanctuary also supports and is supported by other businesses such as A&K Wildlife cruises, which operate out of Falmouth. The Sanctuary also brings so much joy to the local community. There are many people who are regular visitors and who know all of the seals as well as I did! So the Sanctuary absolutely plays an integral role in the local community.

Do you have any tips for other students looking for/undertaking a placement?

Perseverance and knowing how to write a concise, well-structured email are absolutely key.

So many places will either not reply, say no, or say not right now, and all of those are OK and should not discourage you. Keep emailing lots of places, and send appropriate follow up emails when you don’t get a reply.

“Perseverance and knowing how to write a concise, well-structured email are absolutely key.”

It’s also definitely worth emailing places even when they don’t have anything advertised right at that moment – perhaps they are about to advertise something and you might get in there early (that happened to me with the National Trust!), or at least you will have made yourself known, so that when they do want/need someone, you’re already there.

Being able to write a good email will make it easier for the recipients to read and make a decision about you. Be concise in what you want/ask for from the placement – how long, why you want it, what you want from them and what you can give back.

If you’d like to find out more about placements you can start your research here

My Placement with Carclew Estate, Cornwall

Madeline Howard is a current BA English student at the University of Exeter, Penryn Campus. She took the Humanities in the Workplace placement module and worked with Carclew Estate  – a ruined country house estate located between Penryn and Mylor, which is now a haven for wildlife. 

Madeline Howard, current BA English student at the University of Exeter, Penryn Campus

Why did you decide to take a placement module?

I took the module because I felt that it would be a good way of allowing me to see how Humanities degrees allow for a variety of job opportunities, and not just be an English teacher like everyone suggests! I also felt that it would be interesting to do a module that wasn’t strictly like all of the other ones that I was doing – everything else was very text heavy (as expected!) so it was really good to have a module that was far much more discussion based and had a somewhat more casual structure than that of other modules.

“My placement was heavily based on independent research, looking at what certain rooms at the estate may have looked like prior to the extensive damage to the estate that was caused by a fire in the 1930s.”

What type of work you did on your placement? How do you feel this has given you experience for your future studies/career?

My placement was heavily based on independent research, looking at what certain rooms at the estate may have looked like prior to the extensive damage to the estate that was caused by a fire in the 1930s. The independence I had whilst working was hugely beneficial – it made me trust my own work and judgement more, it allowed me for more analytical skills. I felt a huge improvement across my skill set. Furthermore, I feel that these developed skills are so important to my future studies which I can then point out in my Masters applications and soon after in job applications.

“The placement was also nothing like any other jobs or work experience I’ve had before, so it was really enjoyable to have something that was brand new to me, which again really helped me to gain skills that I didn’t have before.”

What did you enjoy most about your placement?

There were so many aspects of the placement that I enjoyed, but it was in particular the independence I enjoyed the most, but also knowing that there was support if I needed it, and that was really reassuring. I was also able to work at my own pace which did really help me learn more about my own time-management skills but also highlighting areas of work that I am now aware that I need to improve on. The placement was also nothing like any other jobs or work experience I’ve had before, so it was really enjoyable to have something that was brand new to me, which again really helped me to gain skills that I didn’t have before.

How has COVID19 affected your placement?

During the module, Covid-19 meant that it was incredibly hard to find and complete a placement, so unfortunately I had to choose an alternative assessment to finish the module. However, I was still determined to do a placement after the module had ended like I had first agreed to, and wanted to do so. By the time I had started the placement, Covid-19 restrictions had eased and we were back to a ‘normal’ way of living that we didn’t have for the past 18 months. However, my placement was done online which was likely to be the way it would have carried out regardless of the pandemic or not.

“Having your own goals and expectations will make you appear confident, and that is something that is hugely beneficial to finding a placement and future jobs.”

Do you have any tips for other students looking for/undertaking a placement?

The best thing to do is do lots of research and really let your placement leaders and or employers know what you want to do and what you want out of your placement. Having your own goals and expectations will make you appear confident, and that is something that is hugely beneficial to finding a placement and future jobs. Also, do not apply so much pressure on yourself; it’s easier said than done, but finding a placement can be really stressful so it’s important that try and ease yourself when you can. There will always be something out there for you, so do not freak yourself out and cause all of this stress. It’s not productive or healthy for you! Just remember to set expectations, set targets and boundaries and make sure you are doing what you want to do.

Find out more about the Humanities in the Workplace placement module

Find your Pathway

Morgan Smith is a current University of Exeter student studying Flexible Combined Honours in Economics with Geography and Study Abroad. In June 2021 they took part in the Pathways to International Trade programme and following the training, completed an internship with Martec International.

In this post, we hear from both Morgan and Brian Hume, Managing Director at Martec, on their experiences of the programme.

Please briefly outline the project you worked on during your Professional Pathways internship and any achievements you were particularly proud of.

Morgan: During my Pathways internship, I worked as a Distributor Manager for Martec International. My role involved reaching out to potential overseas clients and starting a dialogue with regards to a partnership in selling Martec online learning products.

Initially, I contacted potential clients via email, and this yielded little response. I then had the initiative to try contacting people through LinkedIn, which resulted in much higher engagement. I was able to reach out to individuals from a number of companies and my initial conversation with one individual has led to Martec International’s partnership with Future Sharp, a subsidiary of one of the largest retail companies in India. It was amazing for me to be able to see the tangible impact of my work whilst working for Martec International.

“It was amazing for me to be able to see the tangible impact of my work.”

Morgan Smith, Flexible Combined Honours in Economics with Geography and Study Abroad, and successful Pathways applicant

How did hosting an intern via the Professional Pathways programme benefit you and your organisation?

Brian: We were able to start a project that we have not had capacity to resource before.  We have a successful distributor of our products in America.  We want to recruit more of them in other countries and covering other market segments. Our intern helped in drafting a series of initial messages to potential executives and then sent the messages in my name.  This approach really surprised us at how well it worked.  Lots of CEOs and SVPs in target firms connected with me and got engaged in dialogue.  Our intern was able to participate in the initial face to face (via Teams) meeting with the CEO and COO of one company.  We now have electronic dialogues in progress with another 6 or so companies, albeit at earlier stages in the cycle.

Successful completion of this project will benefit my local team because it will help a faster recovery from the pandemic shockwave, it will strengthen the resilience of the business and protect jobs.  It will increase the staffing levels we will need locally as volume builds up. Morgan made sufficient promising progress that we arranged to keep him on for another three weeks on our own payroll to move the project on to more valuable deliverables and hopefully, much greater job satisfaction for him. When it works for the intern, it frequently works for us too!

Brian Hume, Managing Director at Martec

Given the Professional Pathways internship is 35 hours in total, what advice would you give to other students to ensure they gain as much as possible from the experience? 

Morgan: It is really important to work with your manager to make the most of your limited time with the company. In my case, I decided to work part-time in order to have more time for clients to respond to my requests. This worked so well that Martec International kept me on for another 3 weeks to see the project through to a desirable endpoint. Ultimately it is important to try and provide as much value as you can to your company using the skills you have developed both in your degree and your Pathways training. This will allow you to have the biggest impact and also help you to get the most out of the work you are doing.

How was your experience of hosting a remote working intern?

Brian: It worked very well because we are a virtual business anyway and everyone is remote to everyone else, so we have the processes and IT systems to manage it.  We have a Wednesday morning Teams meeting with everyone and Morgan joined those meetings to see everyone else in action and to build a relationship with colleagues.  We also did specific project meetings via Teams regularly, so there was a high level of dialogue with myself and colleagues. Morgan is very personable so he built relationships quickly. Immediately before the project started we had a meeting with everyone involved and reviewed the project plan so we all knew where to start immediately on day 1. We updated the plan regularly as events unfolded. We spoke most days during his time with us.

Applications for all Professional Pathway programmes close next week on Tuesday 18 January at 1:00pm, don’t miss out on applying. You can find further details on the available Pathways and how to apply here, or contact:

Pathways to Arts, Culture and Heritage

Georgie Rubega is a current University of Exeter student studying BA Liberal Arts with Study Abroad. In June 2021 she took part in the Pathways to Arts, Culture and Heritage programme.

Tell us about the work you carried out during your Professional Pathways internship. 

Georgie Rubega, BA Liberal Arts with Study Abroad, and Professional Pathways intern.

During my Professional Pathways internship at Powderham Castle my job title was Educational Visit Programmer, and my main role was to work on a project to create a teacher pack for a new school class visit to Powderham. This involved extensive research on both the history of Powderham, including visiting and touring the castle, and the educational programming area of the heritage sector in order to know what to include in the document. I had to make sure that my proposed school visit supported the National Curriculum, had cross-curricular activities, and of course, was inspired by and originated from Powderham Castle’s history. Overall, it allowed me to be creative in the production of the final document and thinking up the activities and use my written communication, IT, and research skills extensively.

How has the Professional Pathways programme helped you in taking the next steps in your career?

The Professional Pathways programme was really useful as it helped me confirm my decision to pursue a career in the Arts, Culture, and Heritage sector. The training days were an amazing introduction to the different areas of the sector, such as educational programming, marketing, commercialisation etc. and really showed me how diverse and interesting the sector is. The internship itself at Powderham Castle also opened my eyes to the reality of working for a heritage organisation and the experience I have gained will certainly boost my CV and help me stand out in the future.

“The Arts, Culture, and Heritage sector is known to be quite hard to get a job in and so any experience you can get will definitely help to boost your CV and make you stand out.”

How do you think this experience will impact on your employability as you enter the job market as a recent graduate?

The Arts, Culture, and Heritage sector is known to be quite hard to get a job in and so any experience you can get will definitely help to boost your CV and make you stand out, and I know having my internship at Powderham Castle to look back on and refer to going forward, will definitely stand me in good stead for my future career! Furthermore, I feel I developed a good relationship with my line manager and so I hope this networking and connection will also help my employability as I now have a contact in the sector who may think of me for roles in the future.

What advice would you give to a student who has to complete an internship remotely?
I would say that maintaining regular contact with your line manager is a must in order to stay motivated and to check you are working as they want you to – during my internship we had a WhatsApp chat which was really useful as it meant I could get replies to my messages quicker than if I was to send an email, and we also did a few Zoom meetings to chat more extensively. There were two other Pathways students also doing the Powderham Castle internship, so we also had a group chat together to discuss how we were getting on with our work and ask each other any questions which also helped to not feel as isolated and more like a team!

Applications for Professional Pathways 2022 are now open and you can find further details on the different Pathway programmes and how to apply. We plan to run the training in-person on our Streatham Campus and internships available will be a mix of workplace-based roles and remote-working positions. The deadline to apply is Tuesday 18 January 2022 at 1:00pm.

 

Get Paid Work Experience as an SCP or an SBP

Immy Kerr is currently undertaking a placement year with the University of Exeter (SCP) alongside her Liberal Arts degree. 

Immy Kerr, Second Year BA Liberal Arts student, employed on the SCP scheme

All students from all courses can apply for SCP and SBP roles, but at the University of Exeter, Humanities undergraduates can gain work experience across a wide range of sectors as part of their degree on programmes such as ‘with Employment Experience’ or the ‘Humanities in the Workplace’ module. If you’re a Humanities student and want to find out more about work placements head to: https://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/careers/undergraduatestudents/   

My name is Immy, and I’m a Second Year student studying Liberal Arts, taking modules in English, Marketing and Politics. I chose to take the ‘Humanities in the Workplace’ module this year for a number of reasons. Firstly, I was keen to boost my CV, through both one-to-one tuition in creating a stand-out CV, as well as the valuable experience of the work placement itself. As well as a 40-hour placement, the module also teaches philosophical theories behind work and the workplace, real-life ethical issues, critical thinking, and the value and importance of humanities in a society in which it seems the arts are becoming increasingly redundant. This is not to mention that I am now earning money as part of my degree, which is definitely a perk!

“I am thoroughly enjoying my SCP internship: I am lucky to have a very friendly and supportive team and manager, my shift patterns break up studying very nicely, and the job is well paid.”

It goes without saying that any type of job or placement is particularly difficult to source during a pandemic, and it meant that I had to rethink my strategy when applying. Many big companies do not offer a 40-hour placement scheme, and small companies are struggling during this difficult economic climate, so I turned to county councils and charities since my interests lie in public service and corporate social responsibility. Again, this was not easy due to restrictions in face-to-face working. However after a helpful meeting with the university’s placement advisor Simon Allington, I started applying for University of Exeter internships which I found on Handshake. Here, they are categorised into SCP (Student Campus Partnership) which is an internship within the University, and SBP (Student Business Partnership), which is an internship with a local business, advertised to university students. I applied for an SCP job entitled Administrative Assistant for Access to Internships, which I was delighted to have been offered. I started the job in January and work remotely.

Although the placement specifies a minimum of 40 hours, my SCP job is a part-time 6-month contract (currently 7 hours per week increasing to 15 hours next term). My role is to assist in the administrative workings of a scheme called Access to Internships, a program that financially supports students in securing a UK internship. My tasks include sending confirmation emails to students and employees; transferring information between spreadsheets, vacancy forms and agreement forms; and sourcing information about local businesses amongst other general admin tasks. I am thoroughly enjoying my SCP internship: I am lucky to have a very friendly and supportive team and manager, my shift patterns break up studying very nicely, the job is very well paid, and it is very convenient that I am able to work from my laptop at home (although I am sad to be missing the full office experience!).

“I am learning valuable skills in my placement, such as time management, decision making, communication and IT skills, which will be transferable for any future workplace.”

After graduating, I hope to work in Civil Service, with a particular interest in the Ministry of Justice, or any area of government more broadly. I am learning valuable skills in my placement, such as time management, decision making, communication and IT skills, which will be transferable for any future workplace. My job also bears a link to social responsibility and public service since the goal of the Access to Internships scheme is to create a level playing field in order to create equal opportunities for students of all backgrounds. I would very much recommend the ‘Humanities in the Workplace’ module to all humanities students; it is a fantastic opportunity to gain extremely worthwhile experience alongside a degree which will most definitely be useful when searching for a job after graduating.

My Placement with Helston Climate Action

Chloe with the leaflets she helped design for Helston Climate Action

MSc Sustainable Development student, Chloe Lawson, recently undertook a placement with Helston Climate Action Group as part of the optional Independent Work-Based Learning module on the MSc programme. 

“The module lead presented us with a number of potential projects to get involved with, and the one with Helston Climate Action stood out the most to me. This is for a number of reasons, mainly though because whilst I felt I had skills aligned with this project there was also the opportunity to get involved with things I had never done before, and that challenge particularly drew me to this placement. I also strongly believed in the project aims, and supported the cause of the organisation as a whole.

“My advice to anyone pursuing a placement is to utilise the existing teams that are there to help you! This includes tutors, module leads, the Career Zone and of course the Placements team.”

Throughout my placement I was involved with a variety of work, from researching barriers for people engaging with climate change, to designing and analysing surveys to understand how much locals knew about and engaged with climate change. As well as this I helped promote the project using a variety of platforms, and created blog posts about how to join the project. Additionally I helped design leaflets to advertise this project and then helped deliver these leaflets to locals across Helston (in line with COVID-19 guidelines). The pandemic significantly affected my placement. All our meetings took place online, we had to halt leafleting when a lockdown was announced and as we couldn’t talk to a lot of people in person there was a very low sign up rate to the project.

However, despite COVID-19 I had a very positive experience in undertaking a placement, and I am so glad I choose that module, so thank you for everyone who had that possible! I also managed to get another internship as a result of one of the team members on my placement sending me the role and then providing a glowing recommendation. So there are endless possibilities of what a placement could lead to – even during a pandemic!

“…there are endless possibilities of what a placement could lead to – even during a pandemic!”

My advice to anyone pursuing a placement is to utilise the existing teams that are there to help you! This includes tutors, module leads, the Career Zone and of course the Placements team. I wouldn’t have found my placement without them. However, I would also say never be afraid to get in touch with companies yourself, remember you are a valuable asset and companies also gain something by having you there.”

My Placement at Siemens Energy

Claire Humphries is currently on a Placement Year with Siemens Energy as a Sales and Marketing Intern, alongside her Geography and Business Management (Flexible Combined Honours) Degree. At Exeter, Humanities undergraduates can get work experience across a wide range of sectors as part of their degree on programmes such as ‘with Employment Experience’ or the ‘Humanities in the Workplace’ module. If you’re a Humanities student and want to find out more about work placements head to: https://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/careers/undergraduatestudents/

Claire Humphries is currently on a Placement Year with Siemens Energy as a Sales and Marketing Intern, alongside her Geography and Business Management (Flexible Combined Honours) Degree.

I chose to do a degree ‘with Employment Experience’ because I wanted to gain some real-life experience in the workplace to help me understand and get a feeling for what it’s like out in the world of business. I thought this experience would benefit me massively in helping understand what I’m interested and passionate about within a business setting going forward to help with my future career.

“I found placements by looking online, and the Career Zone also had placement adverts. The Career Zone have very useful documents to help with the process such as information on how to improve your CV and how to write a Cover Letter which I found really helpful.”

The search for placements is a tricky one and I would suggest starting sooner rather than later as lots of different companies have different closing dates and there is a lot of competition. It’s also really important to read the information about the placement properly and ensure you fill out everything required to better your chances of getting to the next stage. I found placements by looking online, and the Career Zone also had placement adverts. The Career Zone have very useful documents to help with the process such as information on how to improve your CV and how to write a Cover Letter which I found really helpful. With placement applications I found that practice helps, particularly with on-line tests, and I think it’s really important to remember that even if you get to an interview or assessment stage and don’t get beyond that, it is still a really good learning experience and you should not be disheartened as you will take that experience with you for other jobs that you apply for later on.

“I think it’s really important to remember that even if you get to an interview or assessment stage and don’t get beyond that, it is still a really good learning experience and you should not be disheartened as you will take that experience with you for other jobs that you apply for later on.”

My Placement year has been with Siemens Energy as a Sales and Marketing Intern. Despite my year being severely impacted by the Coronavirus I have gained good business experience, even if it was very different to what I was expecting when I first applied. I may not have experienced working in an office environment, but I have learnt a valuable skill in ‘working from home’ and being part of a ‘virtual office’.  My placement taught me the importance of networking within the workplace as well as the value of informal conversations and catch-ups which help maintain motivation and a healthy mindset. For me this took place in the form of weekly catch-ups with my fellow interns and also some informal team building sessions throughout the year. I also learnt a number of new business skills that I will take with me for my career including time management, project work, presentation skills and the use of different IT platforms.

“Choosing a placement as part of my degree was one of the best decisions I have taken… Having real job experience integral to my degree has helped me discover what I enjoy and also perhaps what I don’t enjoy so much in a work setting.”

Choosing a placement as part of my degree was one of the best decisions I have taken. It’s given me the opportunity to go through rigorous job application processes and it will allow me to use the work experience I have gained to help with future job applications once I graduate. Having real job experience integral to my degree has helped me discover what I enjoy and also perhaps what I don’t enjoy so much in a work setting, and this will help me tailor what modules I choose in my final year.